Take a moment and read with me from Philippians 2:14-16
Do all things without grumbling or complaining, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
I used to teach in public schools, and this verse was close to my heart each day. It tells one clear way you can stand out as a follower of Christ while living among the world: do everything without grumbling and complaining. Back then, for me, that meant not whining about standardized testing and after school meetings. Today, it comes to mind when thinking about my “lot” in life of infertility. As I read through blogs, forums, and magazines and listen to other women talk, I am overcome by a tidal wave of complaints. And what’s worse is, because we’re suffering something sad and beyond our control, we feel we deserve to be complaining. So no one stops us, and we don’t question ourselves.
So it goes with what I see are two other sin issues of infertility and trial in general: being inconsolable, and being too sensitive. We allow and excuse these behaviors in ourselves and others because we feel we deserve to act this way, given the struggles we are facing. We think it’s natural, normal, and merited. But God commands us to be holy as He is holy without condition. We aren’t exempt from being sinful simply because we are in a hard situation. Why are these choices sinful, you may ask? You already see above that we are commanded not to grumble or complain, so that’s obvious. Here are some reasons I’ve thought of (you may have some to add, and please do!):
- Not having a submissive attitude to God’s will – If you are sitting in a pit, whining about your life and refusing to try and improve your attitude, you have a heart issue, dear friend. It may not be easy every day, but you are commanded to submit to the Lord in all things, even in infertility. Attitudes like this show a refusal to submit — just as a disobedient child will slam down with his arms crossed and head shaking, so am I when I complain about my situation and refuse to feel better or take consolation or advice.
- Not choosing joy – We are commanded to be joyful people, even (especially?) in trial. If you refuse to be joyful, you are in direct disobedience to this command, and that’s sin. There’s not much more I can say about that!
- Being touchy is not loving – We are commanded to be loving (God is love, after all). 1 Corinthians 13, everyone’s favorite passage since A Walk to Remember, tells us that “love is not easily angered;” in a looser, modern interpretation, it says “love is not touchy.” When I get easily offended by everything others say, I’m choosing not to be loving. (Yes, I know you’re thinking about how others need to be more sensitive to be loving, but that is not a condition for my love.)
- Being selfish at heart – When I feel sensitive or see others acting that way, the first thing that comes to mind is selfishness. While other Christians ought to have the wisdom to be sensitive in their words around others who are suffering, we need to fight the selfish thoughts that feel entitled to this and angry when it’s neglected. We cannot reasonably think everyone around us is constantly censoring their speech in light of what is going on in our hearts. It would be nice, sure, but don’t you hear the “the world revolves around me” mindset in that? We can, in love, choose to let the sting roll off, forgive within without always rebuking, and assume the best of the speaker. We can also choose to accept that everyone is at a different place in their journey, and we cannot demand full wisdom and sanctification of everyone just because it may otherwise hurt us a little more. That’s not reasonable, and it’s selfish.
- Being ungrateful and discontent at heart – We know this. If we’re complaining, we’re being ungrateful. We’re longing for a change in our life God is not giving, and we’re expressing unhappiness with where He has us. We are not finding our peace and joy in Christ, we are seeking it in other things. I’m not saying this isn’t hard to work at (this is called a trial, after all), but it is necessary to our obedience, our witness, and our sanctification.
You probably already know some or all of those points. Some may turn on a lightbulb and change your attitude immediately. Some may take a lot of prayer and intentionality. But God does not require impossible things of us, so by His grace we can expect to achieve these heart and attitude changes. You have a choice — you may be inclined to these sinful behaviors, but you are not obligated to or entitled to them. You are obligated to holiness, and you can choose it every time, if you want.
Reposted from November 20, 2013.